Milestones Spotlight: Hope-Hill

We’re highlighting a few schools that showed improved achievement in 2018. Each post will include an interview with the principal and a review of their data. Today we’ll look at Hope-Hill Elementary.

The graph below shows that Hope-Hill improved their state percentile rank in every grade and tested subject in 2018. 5th grade social studies was their highest-performing subject, where they scored in the 51st percentile in the state.

This graph uses state percentile rank to better compare different grades and subjects over time, but notice that the graph can be changed to percent proficient with the “choose metric” filter. (See here for more details.)

Hope-Hill is in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood of Atlanta. This neighborhood has been experiencing demographic change, but that does not appear to be directly responsible for the school’s improvement. The graph below shows that Hope-Hill’s math performance is higher than other schools in APS with similar levels of poverty. The dotted line shows that their poverty level in grades 3-5 has been roughly constant over the past four years and that during previous years they performed at about the average of other demographically-similar schools. (See here for more details.)

To learn more about how Hope-Hill improved, we interviewed the principal, Maureen Wheeler.

Hope-Hill saw improvement across the board on 2018 Milestones results. What did the school do differently that led to the improved outcomes?

Last year was my fifth year at Hope-Hill. I challenged the staff by stating it was time to rise to the top. I explained that we had remained status quo for a few years, so it was now time to really show our excellence. Our teachers did just that. With a quality teacher in every classroom, we focused on bell to bell quality instruction.

Instructional reviews were held weekly with teachers to ensure instruction was planned for the needs of each student. An intervention block was scheduled from 8:10 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. daily. Teachers used iReady during their intervention block to provided targeted assistance to students. We implemented a Math Lab on the specialist rotation that provided additional support to our identified students using Compass Learning. Administration was highly visible and provided frequent feedback and support to all teachers and students. We met with teachers bi-weekly to review data and plan for students’ needs using all data points available. It was a strategic emphasis on providing quality instruction to all students daily.

I have worked to create a culture of teacher leaders whom I depend on to share the work. All of our staff members are valued for their contributions to our students.

Each one of those strategies could get it’s own post on how to do it right. Could you pick a few of the most impactful strategies and unpack them for us?

The implementation of an intentional, dedicated intervention block using iReady helped us make sure that we were providing targeted intervention and enrichment daily. This data was monitored monthly and has a direct correlation to our results.

The implementation of the Math Lab using Compass Learning allows our lowest performing students the opportunity to have a double dose of math twice a week. Compass Learning is individualized for each student. The teacher monitors the data and collaborates with the math teachers throughout the building.

The instructional reviews allows the instructional coaches and admin to sit with teachers weekly to unpack the standards that will be taught the following week. During this time, the team discusses assessments, resources, and activities that will be implemented. This helps us make sure that quality instruction is planned for the upcoming week.

How do you plan to maintain and build on 2018’s performance? 

After celebrating our success, we talked with the staff about the importance of getting even better. It is very challenging to demonstrate growth in a school with such a student high mobility rate. We have an outstanding support staff assisting with these efforts. In order to support the teachers, I have hired parapros for all primary grades, and am working on a plan to hire for the intermediate grades. An extra set of hands and eyes allows the teacher to keep the focus on the main thing – teaching and learning. With promotions, moves, and retirements, we have 6 new teachers to our building. Our challenge will be to make certain that we provide them the right amount of support without compromising our core values and quality instruction.